From the time I developed the concept of the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad, it was always my intent to have F units on the roster. In fact, the fourth engine I built for the CWE was an old Athearn F7 A unit. A number of years ago, I ordered two BLI F units- an A and a B- both with sound. I built the B unit first, and it sat as a lone unit for some time. Both engines had early versions of QSI decoders in them, and I was never happy with the sound. Once I began operating the layout, it seemed like it was time to build the A unit and pair it up with the B and a GP7 or 9 for mine run service. This past fall I finally finished the A unit and replaced the decoders in both F units with Soundtraxx sound decoders. Even the earlier versions of the Soundtraxx decoders sound much more like an EMD 567B than the QSI decoders. The units ran through two operating sessions before finally getting the final weathering. Now both units are finally finished, and here's the result:
In the photo above, F7A 1563 and F7B 1572 are shown at the engine terminal in Nelsonville. In the photo below, the units are rolling off the Dry Creek Branch and onto the main line heading west.
In the next shot we catch the trio coming off the bridge just before Cedar Falls Junction.
After passing through Cedar Falls Junction, the trio of units stops on the truss bridge over the main line at Big Chimney while the brakeman aligns the switch for the Sand Fork Branch. A westbound coal train sits in the hole at Big Chimney beneath the bridge.
After picking up the brakeman, the three units head out across the bridge that will take them up the Sand Fork Branch to serve the various tipples located along the line.
With the sunlight fading quickly, we catch one last glimpse of the trio as they pass the station sign at Irma, WV.
On the workbench are two more F7A's, and these units will round out the F unit fleet on the layout. Both engines are Intermountain shells on Stewart chassis with Kato drives, and both units have Tsunami's and high bass speakers installed. I'm anxious to get these two on the layout to hear the Tsunami's!